Shaheed Baba Thara Singh

Jathedar Baba Thara Singh was born in 1924 in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. His earlier name was Dhian Singh. When Baba Gurbachan Singh Ji Bhindranwale did katha in Aurangabad, Dhian Singh was inspired to take Amrit. After taking Amrit from the Panj Pyare, his name was changed to Avtar Singh. Baba Ji got this name, Avtar Singh, inscribed on his left arm. Few weeks later, he joined Dam Dami Taksal Jatha and came to Punjab and started living in Taksal as a student. Immersed in Naam, Sewa, Santhaya, Baba Ji soon attained high spirituality study of Gurmukhi and became very close to Sant Baba Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale.

Baba Thara Singh

There had been a Sikh Sant near Mumbai, Baba Thara Singh, whose Gurudwara still stands in Ulhasnagar. Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale used to listen to stories and Katha of Baba Thara Singh’s Jeevan from Bhai Avtar Singh Ji. Everyday Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale would listen to Jeevan of Mahapurakhs and soon a time came, when Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale would call Bhai Avtar Singh as ‘Thara Singh’.  Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale would say, “Avtar Singh, I haven’t had Darshan of those Mahapurakhs, but I see him within you when you narrate his Jeevan” Now Bhai Dhian Singh alias Bhai Avtar Singh became Baba Thara Singh.(After Bluestar, when Army was looking for Baba Ji’s body, they found it but when time to identify came, they got confused because on the left arm was written the name ‘Avtar Singh’ Army was confused for days when eventually someone told the army, that it was actually Baba Thara Singh’s body whose previous name was Avtar Singh.)

Sewa in Taksal

Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale, 13th Jathedar of Taksal had an accident in 1977 and refused to get his hair cut for operation due to which he left his body. After him Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was appointed the next Jathedar of Damdami Taksal by Baba Thakur Singh, Baba Thara Singh and other Singhs of Dam Dami Taksal according to wish and the orders of Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale had the mission of shaping Sikh Panth’s destiny and reviving the Shaheedi spirit of Baba Deep Singh Ji Shaheed within the Panth.

It was at this time Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale left for Parchar in villages, cities of Punjab and rest of India. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale appointed Jathedar Baba Thara Singh for sewa of Gurudwara Gurdarshan Parkash (Headquarters of Taksal, Chownk Mehta). Baba Ji was in-charge to look after Sewa, Santhaya and other administrative duties at Dam Dami Taksal. Baba Ji along with Baba Thakur Singh Bhindranwale was one of the senior Singhs of Taksal who had come to Chownk Mehta with Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale. Baba Ji did all the sewa with utmost devotion as the order of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. Singhs of all Jathebandis had great respect for Baba Ji due to his selfless service and high spiritual life. Baba Ji was also a guide of the warrior group of Taksal, which Sant Kartar Singh Ji Bhindranwale was creating under Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale, including Singhs like Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, Bhai Gurdev Singh Usmanwala, Bhai Dalbir Singh Abhiyaasi and others. These very Singhs in future were to become great Shaheeds of Panth.

During Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale’s visit to Bombay, Haryana and Delhi in 1981-82, Baba Ji was doing Sewa at Chownk Mehta. When Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was arrested by Punjab police in 1982, he appointed Baba Thara Singh as in-charge of Sewa at Dam Dami Taksal. After 28 days Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was release and soon as being released Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale started doing Sikhi Parchar with more determination. Government was worried about Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale’s intentions, the Indian government tried its best to stop Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale. There were attempts at Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale‘s life, Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, Sundar Gutka Sahibs and other prayers of Sikh Gurus were burnt by the police in Chando Kalan in Haryana, which deeply hurt Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and the Sikhs around the world. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale started giving a new shape to Parchar, turning it into movement for Sikh rights and freedom.

It was at this time Government took the extreme step and one day arrested some Singhs of Dam Dami Taksal. During their hearing in court, Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Thara Singh were sent by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale to take care of Singhs and their cases. As these singhs reached the court complex, they too were arrested without any charges. When Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale heard about Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Ji being arrested, he was deeply pained. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was unwell that day and doctors had put him on glucose. Despite being unwell, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale reached with his Jatha at Sri Akaal Takht Sahib on 18th July 1982 and did Ardas at feet of Guru Hargobind Sahib Ji. Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale declared Dharam Yudh Morcha that day whose aim was not just to free Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Thara Singh but whole Sikh panth from shackles of Slavery.

Morcha continued for many months and the government, due to pressure of Panth dropped fake charges and freed Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Ji. But Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale was determined to take the Dharam Yudh Morcha to its final mission, Freedom of Khalsa Panth. As the Parchar grew and Sikh youth started taking Amrit in thousands, there was a Sikh revival movement in Punjab under command of Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and Damdami Taksal. Thirty-three Sikh Jathebandis supported Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale in this mission. As people said in 19th century, “There is nothing as dangerous as a united Sikh nation.” Indian government too feared the day Sikhs would destroy its imperialist and fascist set-up in Punjab. Preparations to crush Sikh movement were started by Delhi government and here in Amritsar, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale too started preparing to defend the Dharam Yudh Morcha and Sri Akaal Takht Sahib.

Defense positions were established by the singhs in and outside Parikarma of Sri Harimandir Sahib. Important positions were set-up at Langar hall roof, The Ramgharia Bunga, Water tank, on Complex entrance from Langar, Dakhni Deorhi and Ghanta Ghar. These were to be the first resistance posts of Defenders. Bhai Dalbir Singh Abhyiassi and Bhai Swarn Singh Rode were given the positions in the Shabeel room. Baba Thara Singh was given the command of Langar Hall and Ramgharia Bunga positions. There were about 60-65 singhs in the langar hall, with the likes of Bhai Major Singh Nagoke, Bhai Balwinder Singh Varingh, Bhai Gurmej Singh Fauji and others. Bhai Amrik Singh also stayed in this position till evening of 5th June. When the Indian Army attacked Sri Darbar Sahib Complex from the Langar Hall side on the morning of 4th June 1984, the singh gave a tough resistance and repulsed numerous attacks. Singhs held on to their defences and forced invading army to retreat, until they brought in artillery guns and Tanks to destroy positions of the singhs. Baba Ji and singhs had round about 10 LMGs, 15-20 SLRs and roughly 25-30 315 rifles. On the night of 4th June, the Indian helicopters tried to land their commandoes onto the complex, but Bhai Amrik Singh fired a full mag of bullets towards the helicopter and shouted, “We will not let a single commandoes go away alive.” The singhs did not allow single commando to land on the complex. The helicopter moved away from the complex and at that moment Bhai Amrik Singh shouted a war cry of “Bole So Nihal Sat Sri Akaal.”

Baba Ji continued to fight all through the night of 4th June. It was also on this night, that continuous bombing of the singhs positions by guns and tanks resulted in Shaheediyan of many Singhs and all the bunker of the singhs, which were at an high altitude were destroyed. Baba Thara Singh was on Langar Hall’s roof with Singhs  On the morning of 5th June the army opened the curfew for the Sikhs to evacuate the complex, but the Sikhs who did leave and fall for the dirty trick the Indian army were killed by the Indian soldiers. On 5th June, Bhai Amrik Singh told the singhs that everybody should move to Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. Some singhs went with Bhai Amrik Singh to escort him to Sri Akaal Takht Sahib from the Brahm Buta side. The singhs took langar in buckets for the singhs holding their positions in Sri Akaal Takht Sahib. This langar was made before the assault had started on Sri Harimandir Sahib.

Baba Ji had conversation with Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale through wireless handset at Amritvela of 5th June. During this conversation with Sant Ji on morning of 5th June, Baba Ji had said, ”Sant Ji, don’t forget you have done Ardas to free Khalsa Panth from Slavery and being spiritual descendant of Baba Deep Singh Ji Shaheed, you have to fulfil this Ardas, for honour of Dam Dami Taksal and the Sikh Panth’.” Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale replied in a positive manner and promised to Baba Ji that Morcha will continue till Fateh (victory), no matter what happens.

When the Singh reached Sri Akaal Takht Sahib and saw Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale in

Kesri dastar and holding Thompson gun in his hands. The singhs said their ‘Fateh’ to Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and Sant Ji asked the singhs if they were in Chardi Kala. Bhai Amrik Singh told Sant Ji about how he had made the helicopters scatter of the complex. The Singhs told Sant Ji that they have finished their ammunition and also need some more weapons. Sant Ji got angry and said to Bhai Rashpal Singh (PS of Sant Ji) that why haven’t the singhs at the Langar Hall had their supplies of ammunition. Then Bhai Rashpal Singh gave us ammunition, a LMG, a SLR and two Thompson guns. The singhs got all of this equipment and went back to Langar Hall from the same way they came. When the singhs reached Langar Hall, they gave all the ammunition to Baba Ji and he shared it amongst rest of the singhs and said, “Singho, this is all we have.” The battle continued throughout the night of 5th June.

After enormous amount of damage caused by the singhs in Guru Ram Das Langar Hall, the Indian tanks rained bullets onto the Langar Hall, destroying the bunkers of the singhs here. Bhai Major Singh Nagoke, Bhai Ram Singh Sultanpur Lodhi and another 8-10 singhs entered the tunnels here, while Baba Ji, Bhai Bua Singh, Bhai Ajaib Singh Mahakal and some other singhs went onto Parikarma and took positions near Dukh Bhanjani Beri, despite being wounded, Baba Ji continued to defend the eastern entrance of Darbar Sahib, from where Tanks were to be brought in. Whole night of 5th June, Baba Ji held on to his position and kept fighting, with other great Singhs by his side till 12 o’clock, midday of 6th June. Around about 9 o’clock, a fierce battle took place outside Sri Akaal Takht Sahib, Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and fellow singhs shouted war cries and attained shaheedi fighting the Indian artillery.

Now Baba Ji and the singhs had no ammunition, no reinforcements, no medical help, nothing to eat, no one to come to their rescue. At 12 o’clock on 6th June, Baba Ji told the young singhs to stay in the bunker while the elders go outside and see what happens. Before this Bhai Surinder Singh Nagoke and Bhai Balwinder Singh Fauji jumped into the Sarovar and tried to swim to Sri Darbar Sahib but attained shaheedi in the Sarovar, after the Indian army shot at them. When the Baba Ji went out from his bunker with another 5-6 elder singhs, the Indian army shot them and they all attained shaheedi. The Indian army found out that there are more singhs in the bunker and did many announcements demanding the singhs to surrender. The remaining singhs knew they had no ammunition and after throwing the weapons into the Sarovar they all came out of the bunker to see the shaheedi saroop of Shaheed Baba Thara Singh and others on the Parikarma, near Dukh Bhanjani Beri. The face of 60 year old, Baba Ji was glowing along with rest of the shaheeds. The Indian army did not shoot these singhs and instead arrested them.

The news of Baba Ji escaping from this assault to Pakistan and later dying from heart attack are completely false. Throughout this assault of Sri Harimandir Sahib, Bhai Sukhwant Singh was with Baba Ji and saw him attaining shaheedi with his own eyes. Bhai Sukhwant Singh Ji was one of the singhs that was later arrested and helped the Sikh nation know the truth about Amar Shaheed Baba Thara Singh by writing his great life.

Awaaz-E-Khalsa – Sukhwant Singh – June 2009